Sometimes I like to imagine what ads would be like if there were an omnipresent Marketing God. Some supreme, completely honest marketing voice that knew all. All about the products and companies that we have access to.
In order to draw fair and complete comparisons between complicated products and conditions you have to think that ads created by the Lord our Marketer, would be pretty wordy, but because the Marketing God really wants to make sure I know the truth, and knows I am lazy, all the words would go into my head in the form of a native thought. Pop! Full understanding.
Like an ad for a pen might go:
“My Son‚ ” My marketing God always starts his advertising copy that way.
“My Son, on the one hand at 50% off, Writemate’s New Gel Premium Grip pen is well worth its monetary price, costing you $0.02 less than the cost of materials, production, packaging and distribution. On the other, I beg that you weigheth the claim of “disposable”. Alas, it is not disposable in a compositional sense, excepting that once it runs out of ink you will simply wish to discard it. In fact, if you buy now, the specific pen you are holding will persist intact for 357 years at which time it will be mistaken for a silverfish and swallowed by an as-yet un-evolved Sea Lion species near South American shores. That will be on a Sunday. It will puncture her esophagus which will make the sea lion deceased by the following thursday and will further render the unborn cub of the sea lion stillborn. The remnants of the pen will then degrade over the following 1,263 years. And anyway the ink will leaketh onto thine new, white Zara shirt next wednesday on a flight to Tampa due to low air pressure. So you will have to keep your suit jacket buttoned, enduring scorching Florida heat to avoid embarrassment at the board meeting. Also – some of the ink will get on the skin of your abdomen. There is a new nano-particle in the ink that BioCenterLabs managed to get approved for commercial use without enough long-term testing to record its full impact on an entire human life span. The chemical can pass through your skin; it enters the blood stream and eventually is filtered by your liver. Unfortunately it will stay in your liver and will be a .082 percent contributing factor to your fatal organ failure at the age of 87. That might sound old to you now – but actually people who avoid that chemical (and a couple others we need to talk about, my Son) will be living to 102 years on average by then. Even so, if you do decide to purchase it, you will be able to use this pen to jimmy your backdoor open when you get locked out on Monday morning – so it’s your call.”
And he puts the whole thing into a little yellow starburst in the corner of the package. Somehow it’s magically and instantly legible. And there isn’t a picture of some hot chick using the Pen either. It’s a picture of me, jimmying my back door in my boxers next to a choking sea lion.
My marketing Lord’s ad messages are often inconclusive. Loaded with trade-offs and complexities. He says that’s life. Things are always more complicated than one might wish.
That said, He IS pretty conclusive with spam. The last spam message I got from Him read:
“My Son, these Male Enhancement Pills will NOT increaseth the size of your penis. Not in the slightest. They will however give you a stomach ache. I could go on about where your money will go, and what the herbs will do in your body – and the fact that some of them come from a company that employs little kids the same age as your son. But anyway – your penis is bigger than that annoying guy at your office whom you disliketh, so feel good about that and don’t bother with this product.”
I was at the Super Market yesterday and so overwhelmed was He that my Marketing Lord had to stop to rest part way through. I was at the dairy section when I saw an ad on a carton of Milk:
“My Son, Have you seen this Child? Last seen voluntarily leaving his mother’s house gleefully hugging and kissing his estranged father who loved the little boy more deeply than life itself. The clinically neurotic, smoking, self-centered mother, had unfairly acquired custody of the boy when said father failed to show up at the custody court hearing. He was at the time sitting by his son’s side at the hospital as the boy recovered from injuries having suffered a fall in the mother’s backyard while she ignored him the day prior watching Jerry Springer lounging slothfully next to her ashtray. Of course this fact was not mentioned at the hearing. So don’t call the number below if you have information. The kid is now happy and well care for.”
No not that ad – I meant the one on the other side of the carton:
“Got Milk, My Son? You might ask why you should. For that matter, consider why you think of it as “milk” at all, and not, say, “fluid secreted from several mildly-tortured animal’s teats?” Or at least “Cow milk?” My Son, human breast milk is required by human infants to start life healthily. That is the only type of milk the human body ever requires in its lifetime. As such it should logically be what you think of when you hear the generic use of the word “milk”. But the Dairy Board has issued some very effective, multifaceted marketing strategies since well before you were born to compel your parents, and now you, to think of cow milk as some sort of wholesome, important, even mandatory part of an adult’s diet. In reality, after 2 or 3 years of age the average human body stops producing the enzymes required to digest milk. Any milk – including this carton of cow milk. Weened humans do not need milk. At all, unless of course one were in an utter vacuum of other more healthy food sources. Further consider the fact that the milk secreted from cows’ udders rather specifically occurs to add an incredible 700 pounds of body weight to a comparatively dumb animal infant over only 9 months – this is far from the kind of nutrition a small, intelligent human requires. And you have wondered why dairy is so fattening? Anyway, whatever worthwhile nutrients one might find in cow milk can be all obtained via other easily available sources, in healthier forms. If you’re still not sure, take this test my Son: ask yourself if you would drink a tall, cool glass of homogenized rat milk. Be honest. Or dog milk. Now, aside from availability issues there is no meaningful, health-based difference between these and cow milk. Now, what about a glass of human breast milk? My Son, it is more fit for you than cow milk, and your grimace at that thought is cause enough for you to reflect seriously on your reflexive acceptance of swallowing cow secretions. With my deepest respect my Son, you are merely non-critically used to it. Cow milk is simply abundant. That is the only reason it was adopted by agribusiness. I could go on about the rough treatment and generally miserable lives of these animals, and the hormones and drugs that are used to keep these cows in a state of pseudo-pregnancy – producing unnaturally large quantities of milk so as to feed a country’s population, and how these drugs and hormones not only negatively affect the animal’s health but yours too. And that contrary to human marketing, osteoporosis is literally worsened by the ongoing consumption of large amounts of cow milk after puberty, not improved. Instead my Son, I would simply turn your attention to the Rice Milk over there, some nuts and collard greens.”
Pop! All understood in an instant. And there isn’t a cute cartoon of a cow on the box either, no, it’s a color photo of a fleshy, slightly milking-sleeve-infected cow teat dripping a squirt of delicious wholesome yellowy-white fluid.
Total honestly. Full disclosure.
There are several aisles in my super market where my Marketing God simply screams really loud and panicky, and stutters things like “M..M..Monsanto..!” and “… CLONED BEEF!”, and I have learned not to go down those aisles at all.
Unfortunately, I don’t really have a supreme Marketing God. I’m bombarded by the sometimes overt, and sometimes surreptitious, marketing tactics of companies that operate under a type of self-preservation, survival motivation of their own with messages that are usually intentionally incomplete- lacking sincere and helpful full-disclosure at best, and often misleading, dishonest or dangerous at worst. My only tools are books, the Internet, common sense, my wife (the previous two are interchangeable), and a willingness to question the basic status quo of every single purchase decision I encounter.
That’s hard work. The system isn’t designed to support access to the truth.
It is designed and maintained to compel you to purchase and consume without such a critical thought.